The Fall of Trebizond and the End of Rome

In 753 BCE the semi-mythical twin brothers Romulus and Remus founded Rome on the site where they were supposedly suckled by a she-wolf as orphans. A thousand years later in the 4th century CE, the unwieldy Roman Empire was split into its eastern and western halves. The Western Roman Empire would fall to the Barbarian invasions of the next century. While the eastern half, or Byzantine Empire because it was centered on the city of Byzantium, which was renamed to Constantinople after the eastern half’s first emperor, Constantine, would last until 1204.

Orthodox Constantinople was captured by Catholic crusaders during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 due to the various political machinations of Venice, the Byzantines, and Crusaders. The Byzantine Emperor was deposed and a Latin Crusader state was established. This fractured the Byzantine Empire into a series of successor states (similar to the fall of Alexander the Great’s empire), most notably the Despotate of Epirus, and the Empires of Nicaea and Trebizond.

Immediately, all vowed to restore the Byzantine Empire and declared war on the Latin State of Constantinople. Nicaea reconquered the city in 1261 and reestablished the Byzantine Empire, but the power of the Empire was broken forever.

The New Byzantine Empire was unable to withstand the Ottoman Turks and most of the successor states were subsumed in the 14th and 15th centuries. Constantinople itself fell to Sultan Mehmed II in 1453.

Mehmed II then turned his attention to the last remaining Byzantine successor state, the Empire of Trebizond, in the mountainous northeast of Anatolia. On 15 August, 1461, David Megas Komnenos, the last Byzantine emperor surrendered the city of Trebizond (modern Trabzon, Turkey), to the besieging Turks.

With the fall of Trebizond, 2,214 years of Roman history came to an end.

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